Raising chickens is a rewarding and fulfilling activity. As a first-time chicken owner, you will likely make a few mistakes along the way. We’ve put together a few tips to help you transition from first-time chicken owner to successful chicken coop manager.
Elevate Your Coop
We’ve seen it many times: the first time coop builder puts the henhouse directly on the ground, creating a simple frame without any flooring. Yes, leaving your coop on the ground will allow your chickens to peck at the dirt and find the occasional earthworm, but we strongly recommend raising your henhouse off the ground. Foxes, coyotes, possums, and even weasels can dig under the frame of a hen house and steal your chickens without you knowing it. Raising the chicken coop a foot or so off the ground and installing flooring will protect your chickens from unwanted intruders.
Be Picky About Building Materials
Building a chicken coop is a great way to repurpose scrap or damaged wood, but be cautious when you choose materials. Remember, chickens are messy creatures, and rough wood planks are difficult to clean. Be sure to sand down rough patches to make cleanup easier. Avoid creating the entire coop out of chicken wire. Your coop is your chickens’ primary source of shelter from predators and bad weather. It needs to be sturdy and secure.
If you live in a cold area where the temperature drops at night, you’ll want to add a heating element. In many areas, adding an additional light bulb to the coop will generate sufficient heat to keep your chickens warm during the chilliest days, but some areas will need heating lamps. Regardless of the option you go with, be sure to keep your heating element away from the nesting material and shavings along the floor of the coop. Depending on the temperature of the bulb, these materials can easily catch fire.
Easy Access to Water
Make sure you have ample sources of water for your chickens. Avoid using a heavy bucket placed on the floor of the coop. This type of watering system gets dirty often and will need to be changed frequently. Look for hanging watering options that will keep the chickens from being able to play in it. Remember, chickens, like most birds, love playing in water.
Outdoor Access to Laying Nests
If space is at a premium in your yard, you may not have enough space to build a coop that you can walk through, making egg collection a difficult task. Add an access point on the outside of your coop that will let you collect the eggs without setting foot inside. Access boxes set beneath the laying nests will let you grab the eggs without disturbing the coop itself.
Your chicken coop needs to protect your chickens from predators and weather alike, and having a strong structure will do you no good if your chicken coop door is flimsy. Remember, raccoons can often sneak into the coop when they’re secured with nothing more than a simple latch. Consider installing an automatic chicken coop door. Our doors are secure, sturdy, and can operate on a timer, giving you peace of mind and an extra hour of sleep in the morning.
Always check your local ordinances before you build your chicken coop. Unfortunately, some neighborhoods and cities don’t permit chickens inside city limits. The last thing you want to do is prepare a chicken coop only to find you have to take it down.
We hope these tips help you plan a successful backyard chicken coop. If you have any questions about our automatic doors, or simply want more information, don’t hesitate to contact us.